Maltese corsairs and their link to Vassalli
The 2016 Andrew Vella Memorial Lecture, taking place tomorrow, will focus on the last of the Maltese corsairs and their link to one of Malta’s foremost linguists, Mikiel Anton Vassalli.
Liam Gauci, curator of the Malta Maritime Museum, will regale the audience with tales of these seafaring citizens. When the Order of St John was forced out of Malta in 1798, corsairing finished overnight, or so it was believed.
In reality, the Maltese corsair community had a role to play during the tumultuous period of 1798-1800 and an epilogue of sorts can be traced for some of them. Throughout the Maltese revolution against the French-Maltese republican government-garrison, there were Maltese corsairs on both sides. Corsair dynasties were pitted against each other, with pro-republican corsairs playing their role for the new regime.
Eventually, however, the republicans had to concede defeat. As a result, these men who had spent their life sailing the Mediterranean in search of plunder, now sought refuge away from their island. In their final reincarnation they formed a part of Mikiel Anton Vassalli’s attempt to cultivate cotton on Corsica. This was meant to be one of the cogs to help Emperor Napoleon defeat Great Britain.
Gauci, an alumnus of the Department of History, is also the author of In the Name of the Prince: Maltese Corsairs 1760-1798, which will be on sale on the day. Audience members will get to sip a beverage from Vassalli’s days. The lecture will be followed by a meal, for which pre-booking and pre-payment are necessary.
■ The lecture is being organised by the Malta University Historical Society (MUHS), a University-based organisation founded in 1963 which publishes the journal Storja. The talk is being held tomorrow at the Malta Maritime Museum in Vittoriosa at 6.30pm. Patrons are to be seated by 6.15pm. For more information visit the Facebook page of the MUHS or email [email protected].